Meditation and Gratitude

(The real names of the people below have been changed.)

For the first time, I leaned in during our dedication of merit, the part of the meditation session where we dedicate our sit to someone or something.

“I’d like to dedicate the merits of my practice to those who have shown me kindness and compassion. We often forget that in a jungle of hurtful people, there are those who still help.”

I didn’t say it exactly like that. I never speak as clearly as I write, but I finally spoke out because I meant what I said.

Most of my life, I’ve focused on negative people. I’ve often referred to them as “my enemies”. I thought that if these people were not in the picture, I would feel respected and understood.

My Buddhist reverend stresses the importance of compassion, reinforces it through repetition. It took years of going to practice for it to finally seep in. People have been compassionate to me, and I only wanted more from everyone.

Pam was the only person who talked to me in high school without me having to open up first.

Albert helped me when I was trying to make a movie. I wanted to be known as a young man.

Donna invited me to a party at age 23 when I hadn’t been invited to one in years.

Tanya set me up on a date when I couldn’t even get a hello from a woman.

Gabriel helped me be more confident about myself when I did get more dates.

Professor Dan sat me down and helped me set up this blog.

Ellen is my friend today and is always on the lookout for potential career contacts.

Mom and Dad did so much that they cannot be thanked enough.

I can’t owe it all to mediation. Meditation was the tool. I chose meditation because there was something in it, something I needed to sharpen my awareness and love of myself. I helped Marc first. Then, the door of perception opened and allowed me to see the things I needed see at the pace that I could bear.

I don’t know how I made the choice to help myself. Somethings will always remain a mystery.

Post-Meditation Journal Entry # 14

12/26/2017 (6:39 am – 6:54 am)

And the thought arose from the ocean of my mind and said, “Ask the breath. The breath will tell you both your question and answer.”

I had a vision. I thought about a current situation that I cannot control and a thought-emotion-image popped into my head. I was in early elementary school and I felt a bad feeling. I didn’t like early elementary school. Especially, the first two grades. I remember coming home crying to my mother one kindergarten day, saying how no one likes me. School was a jungle to me. People were wild and heartless animals and I could not understand their language. I was used to a certain level of attention and nurturing from home, from mother, but these kids just didn’t react to my jokes and TV references and my personality.

People were just mean without reason and no matter how many decent classmates were actually there, the sucky people stuck out the most. They were into who-likes-who-type things and who’s-being-bad-type things.

I always wanted to go home early in kindergarten and first grade. I was quiet and inside myself with no sense of social intuition. These kids were like Soviet gymnast on steroids when it came to socialization and I was Popeye pre-spinach.

I felt those feelings in that split second of meditation. I could see how those feelings began in early grade school and still follow me until this day. I had no control. Everyone and everything else did have the control, at least the illusion of it. But it’s better than nothing.

I formed my ego in the middle of a cursive writing lesson, writing out my name in the hope that one day I could sign autographs like Michael Jackson. The seeds for becoming a writer were planted on that paper with that lead pencil.

I don’t know what seeing that image and feeling that feeling will do for me. My guess is that its benefits will not take effect for another few months. For now, I’m made a connection and I know now with more certainty what meditation has been telling me for last year: God is in the breath, not the concept.

Post Meditation Journal Entry # 13

12/25/2017 6:24 am – 6:39 am

Many positive thoughts for this sit. Every now and then I’d feel a joyful feeling and see someone smiling at me. I can’t tell if I saw the smiling person first and then felt the joyful feeling or felt the joyful feeling and then saw the image of the smiling person . But again, I struggled with the whole thinking about thinking thing on-and-off, I follow out long strands of chain-linked thoughts and for almost an entire minute just think and think and think. When I meditate in group, it seems as though everyone else is doing it correctly and is just comfortable sitting, but I keep wanting to tend to my thoughts. But as I’ve been told that is part of meditation, living with the things that you only believe that you can control.

I count every breath now from 1 to 20 then start over again. I use it as sort of a training wheel until I can focus without it. I’ve asked myself if counting really does work or if it’s obstructive, but it’s allowed me to have some successes in concentrating and manifesting positive thoughts.

I felt a surge of creative energy this sit. I felt that I could tackle a project of mine with enthusiasm. As though if I fail it will not matter, journey-is-the-goal type of stuff. Beautiful.

I will end this entry on dreams. I had a few nightmares last night. The first dream, I was in my childhood home in the second floor back window (the bathroom). It was dark outside and teenagers were trying to attack the house by throwing stuff at it. I made an attempt to throw stuff back at them with my father. My father sort of lost interest, but I was intent on calling 911 for some feeling of safety. I was really scared. I fussed with the phone, trying to call, but for some reason I can never make phone calls or mess with numbers in dreams.

The second dream involved sort of a heavy guy on a wheel chair that wanted my undivided attention. He grabbed my arm and wrapped it around him and talked nice to me but there was a dark undertone about it. I attempted to leave and he became ugly and nasty and started chasing me on his wheelchair. I couldn’t get away fast enough.

Last night’s nightmare, this morning’s awakening. I still believe there is a balance of energy to the mind not unlike the physical forces of the universe.

Post-Meditation Journal Entry # 11 and # 12

8/13/17 (5:20-5:31, I could not find the first part of my writing.)

…like the feeling was one of being given was the intangible gift of human decency and consideration.

I felt moments of joy that were broken by the thought that I’m better at this. This was a very healthy sit. I still refuse to meditate up to 20 minutes at home, still impatient and I don’t know why. I feed my thoughts like a junkyard dog, guarding the rubbish of ego. I swear I tend to my thoughts more than anyone in this world.

Good sit. Very good sit.

8/21/17 (2:20-2:23, nearly 20 minutes before the solar eclipse)

I think I saw nirvana. It was drowning in cathartic emotion, like crying, like dying and winning the race.

I was angry. I saw the object of my rage and wanted to hurt that person for hurting me, insulting me. I’d been arguing with him in my head a better part of the day, trying to win the war, trying to take back the past. And for some reason (maybe because of years of practice) I just said, “No. I will not do this.” And then I could feel the emotion. It was immense joy bound together with a deep sense of trepidation. It was good, but it was overwhelming. It was scary, but I think it was love, maybe. I saw a cabin in a forest. It was small, more like a bungalow and it had a small porch and afternoon sunlight penetrated the trees to create a light around the perimeter of the cabin, a bright light that illuminated the dirt and made it more dense in detail and clear. And I think I saw Jesus. Either his image superimposed on the cabin or maybe him standing on the cabin porch. I tried to sit longer. I refused. I had to write it.

P.S. I thought about that emotion that lasted for a split second and I felt that I had felt that emotion at one point in my life. I couldn’t identify it for a minute or two. Then finally I said to myself, “This is what I have experienced on the future day of my death.”

Post-Meditation Journal Entry # 4 and # 5

5/12/17, 5:00pm-ish, duration unknown

Today’s sit went by fast, but was hard. I want badly to catch the previous experiences, that deep experience. You feel like you’ve touched something. Today, I just didn’t touch anything.

I’m blocked as a writer, so I tried to start a screenplay today. I’ve completed screenplays in the past in between ages 14 and 21. I was bad at it but you couldn’t tell me otherwise back them. I thought that maybe since I completed screenplays in the past, I could finish one now and at least have a piece of work in my hand.

I had an interesting idea. But I couldn’t see the world of the story nor the protagonist. The elements that would compose the word of this story seemed flat and uncertain of itself. It was grey, cold and ashy. I reasoned that it was because I picked the wrong protagonist, so everything else fell apart. Story just might be too boring for me anymore. Not enough time to indulge in another writer’s stories, not sure where my story is going.

5/13/17, 10:00pm-10:20pm

The last thing I saw was Moby Dick. Also, I could see the sea vessel on choppy water.

Sometimes meditation is like dreaming. When you wake those thoughts and images slip away. But with meditation they just fade out like a candle and all you have is the smoke.

Post-Meditation Journal Entry #3

5/8/17, 7:20pm-7:40pm (Group Meditation)

I sat out during walking meditation. It goes too slow for me. I don’t like it. But what did I experience? I almost jumped at an uncomfortable thought. I inhaled and exhaled through it.

There’s a place somewhere in your breath. It’s a knot, a knot of thoughts. I saw people in it. Or maybe just a person. He/she/them was in the same mind set I was in. It’s a good place, maybe even a peaceful one, but I know it’s good.

The person was male this time, and he was in this knot.

I’ve denied myself this experience, definitely during my sits, maybe in other aspects of life. It’s scary. It’s real. It was a true object of the mind.

Gordian knot, Alexander’s challenge. The son of a bitch just cut the rope, honoring no mystery.

Post-Meditation Journal Entry #1

May 7, 2017, 1:01pm-1:07pm

I don’t know why I can’t meditate for longer than 5 minutes without looking at a clock or watch. This time I held the urge. It made me realize that I was just looking for an excuse to break from my practice. A fact like that, so obvious, evaded me. Seemingly obvious things have often evaded me.

The meditation itself: I saw someone observing me, my reaction. It was real. Not real as in a sentient being, but an image. He reminded me of the alien at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The one with the beer belly who did the hand sign, but his face was tall-like. He had a light-blue tint to him and he seemed to be smiling, but he was curious about who I was in this new environment, his environment (a new job maybe). I don’t know if I could trust this image/thought/person. I’ve always gotten along with people, but I’ve had mixed results with whether or not I can really trust him or her, 50/50. The Unknown is always 50/50, malicious or benign, the universe its record playing its notes.

Photo and writing by Marc Alexander Valle.

The Accidental Atheist

“I am an atheist,” Mrs. Holis, my sixth grade teacher said. “I believe that when you die that’s it. There is no heaven. No hell. Nothing. You’re just a body and when you die you go back into the earth”

My eleven-year-old mind could neither conceive nor understand an end to consciousness. I took this to mean that when you die, you sit in a casket fully awake until the end of time. I carried this image all through middle school.

Two years later, walking home from the mall, she emerged from a porch with another lady. She saw me.

“How are you?!” she said.

“I’m fine. How are you?” I said.

“Great. Are you doing well in school?”

“I guess.”

“Well, that doesn’t sound too good.”

“I know.”

She took out a brochure. “Well, I just want you to know that God loves you…”

“Okay.”

She handed the brochure to me. I took it. “And Jesus is our lord and savior.”

“Okay.”

“Do you believe in the Lord, Marc?”

“Yeah.”

“And do you believe in Jesus?”

“I guess.”

“Well, do you believe that God sent down his only begotten son to save your soul?

“I don’t know.”

“Well, this literature will help you understand the sacrifice that Jesus made for you. Okay, hun?”

I took the pamphlet and looked at the pictures on the way home. I then tossed it over the bridge and into the Jordan creek.

I felt a sense of relief deep inside knowing that she was no longer an atheist.

She might have been wrong back then. I might have to sit in a casket until the Earth explodes. Thank God.